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177

sure, polite as I could. And they was mighty polite too, and
said they had heard as how I was a fine man, could do as
good a day's work as any man, stout and handy with my
hands. I said, ' Now, gentlemen-----'"

" Now, I wonder who'd ever told 'em that, now," another
man there in the barber shop said, and winked around at the
group. "I'd call that rumour pretty grossly exaggerated,
like they say."

The first man paid him no attention, continuing; "' Now,
gentlemen,' I said,' I shore am mighty proud to be having a
name like that with my neighbours, and proud to have them
taking an interest that-away, even if it was sorter late at
night.' They said yeah, they'd heard a lot about me, and
how I was specially good handling a hoe. I said that was
mighty kind of whoever said it. And they said, did I have
a hoe, and 1 'lowed I did. They said, ' Well, now, we been
hearing so much and all we just thought we'd drop by and
see if all the bragging people did about you was firmly
grounded in fact.' That's what that fellow said, 'firmly
grounded in fact.' Then he said, ' If you'll just take a hoe,
Mr. McCarthy, and step down to yore plant bed, we'll just
be seeing, and we don't mean no pissy-ass garden hoe,
neither.' And I just said, f Yes, sir,' and went down to the
toolshed and got the biggest hoe you ever laid eyes on, a
great, big, old clod-busten field hoe. Then we all went down
to the plant bed, down near the branch, and one man said,
' Well, I reckon you know what to do,' and I said I reckon I
did. And I done it."

" Be durned," another man said, " if I'd ever let anybody
make me scrape my plant bed. They might scrape it, all
right, but be durned if they'd make me."

" Sure, you can talk big, Suggs," another man told him,
" not having any plant bed."

" And no place to put one on," McCarthy said.

"Well, if I did have one."

" Naw, naw," the man named McCarthy insisted, " you'd
do it, like I done it. They was mighty polite and all, but you